Thursday, 29 July 2010

Is it a lie if it is said by an official?

"Accuracy first," I used to tell the writers. "We must never lie by accident, or through slovenliness, only deliberately!"

And as we put out news bulletin after news bulletin and service programme after service programme an entire system of subversive campaigns developed.

We are waging against Hitler a kind of total war of wits. Anything goes, so long as it serves to bring nearer the end of the war and Hitler's defeat. If you [Otto John] are at all squeamish about what you may be called upon to do against your own countrymen you must say so now. I shall understand it. In that case, however, you will be no good to us and no doubt some other job will be found for you. But if you feel like joining me, I must warn you that in my unit we are up to all the dirty tricks we can devise. No holes are barred. The dirtier the better. Lies treachery, everything"
Those are the words of Sefton Delmer who,during WW2, ran a undercover operation known as Black Boomerang. The measures used were extreme:
"The first consisted of posting letters to the relatives of German soldiers who had recently died in German military hospitals in Italy. Fortunately for us the German hospital directors made a practice of sending radio telegrams en clair to the local party authorities in Germany asking them to break the news to the relatives. These telegrams were intercepted and passed on to me. And they gave us all the information we needed – the soldier's name, the address of his relatives and the name of the hospital.

We now concocted a moving letter, written out in German longhand script on notepaper bearing the letter heading of the German hospital. Ostensibly the letter came either from a nurse or from a comrade of the dead man who had entrusted it for posting to someone going to Germany on leave. Whoever was the writer, he or she had been with the dead man during his last hours, and was now writing to comfort his relatives...

On other occasions we used the same technique to tell the relatives that their soldier had not died of wounds, but had been given a lethal injection. The Nazi doctor at the hospital, we explained through our nurse, had considered the man had no chance of becoming fighting fit again before the war was finished. The doctor had required the man's bed for soldiers with a better chance of rapid recovery.

Next I decided to fake a letter allegedly written by Mölders expatiating on the doubts he and his comrades felt about fighting for the atheist Hitler... For it was in keeping with the character of young Mölders to have written such a letter. He alone could have denounced it convincingly, and he was dead – murdered, so everyone believed, by the Nazis themselves. To lighten my conscience a little – and help on our desertion campaign at the same time – I also arranged for food parcels to be sent to those relatives of dead soldiers whom we had hoaxed so cruelly with our 'Red Circle' letters. To reinforce their belief that the dead man was not dead at all but a deserter earning good money in a safe refuge abroad we gave the alleged sender of the food parcel the dead man's Christian name.
What Black Boomerang did was to put an official gloss on the false reports so that the listeners to the radio station he established would have no doubts that they were listening to a genuine broadcast. What they heard was based upon common knowledge but re-written so as to have an insidious effect upon the troops and the factory workers.

So there may be no doubt about what will follow, this is what I accept as the meaning of Black Propaganda:
Black propaganda is false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy. Black propaganda contrasts with grey propaganda, the source of which is not identified, and white propaganda, in which the real source is declared and usually more accurate information is given, if also slanted or distorted.

Black propaganda purports to emanate from a source other than the true source. This type of propaganda is associated with covert psychological operations. Sometimes the source is concealed or credited to a false authority and spreads lies, fabrications, and deceptions. Black propaganda is the "big lie," including all types of creative deceit.

Ultimately, black propaganda relies on the willingness of the receiver to accept the credibility of the source. If the creators or senders of the black propaganda message do not adequately understand their intended audience, the message may be misunderstood, seem suspicious, or fail altogether.

Governments will generally conduct black propaganda operations for two different reasons. First, by utilizing black propaganda a government is more likely to succeed in convincing their target audience that the information that they are seeking to influence them with is disguised, and that its motivations are not apparent. Second, there are diplomatic reasons behind the use of black propaganda. Black propaganda is necessary in order to obfuscate a government's involvement in activities that may be detrimental to its foreign policies.
We are involved in a Black Boomerange exercise right now. All of the 'official' spokesmen are stressing that the public release of the Afghan War Logs will result in murders of those Nationals who have collaborated with coalition forced. They claim this will be easily accomplished as the material now made public includes, in plain and un-coded language, the names and addresses of the informants.

These claims of pending murders are intended to throw dirt on the owner of Wikileaks and to create resentment that anyone would act in such a uncaring manner motivated by profit. If or when the whistle-blower is identified his character and motives are already compromised. And, it is working - see the comments at just one web siteThere are many other similar comments but the 'bleep' machine would have to work overtime.

Those who are against war on moral grounds will gather their own propaganda from this just as will the hawks who can claim that putting the names into the common arena will jeopardise recruitment of further civint sources.

The scope of the information that is shown in the leaked papers is very detailed. Forenames, family name, father's name and their village. Now, just ask where this all came from? Is it likely that wikileaks created or discovered it by legwork and investigation? If you think so, to what end?

No - it was all in the original documents.The one cardinal rule when dealing with informants, of course, is PROTECT YOUR ASSET!! In law enforcement, if your CI is identified or "burned" it can be devastating, not only to your case but to the safety of your CI and his/her family. This, clearly, was not a concern of those who maintained the files but seems to have escaped notice of anyone who may have used them. There could be a case that wikileaks should have redacted the information. What there is is something about the size of the documentation in the Saville (Bloody Sunday) Inquiry. That took about four years after the actual hearings ceased so how long would it have been before the War Logs saw the light of day.

Think back about the other subjects where public suspicion does not line up with official claims and explanations. Shortage of helicopters? No - we have given the commanders on the ground all they have asked for. Numbers of grievously wounded? Calculations differ. Incidence of mental stress and PTSD amongst returning troops? Fudged.

So - we cannot accuse our leaders of pursuing Boomerang tactics on a wide front. They just lie. "Tell them anything to keep them quiet. The radio station is ours"

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